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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Comanche Mural Dresses Up Oklahoma Town, Pays Tribute To Tribes, People
by The Lawton Constitution
Artist J. NiCole Hatfield spray paints in the eye of Kiowa Chief Lone Wolf on a muralin downtown Anadarko. The massive project is the largest she's ever painted with spray paint.
Anadarko, OK — An Anadarko building is getting a facelift thanks to the talents and hard work of a local American Indian artist.

J. NiCole Hatfield and partner Steven Grounds started painting the north side of the Lacey-Pioneer Abstract Building in June after they were given permission by the city of Anadarko. But the project started much earlier than that, The Lawton Constitution reported.

"This has been ongoing for a pretty long time," Hatfield said. "The owner's son approached us last year and we were originally going to start in November or December. We had to get approval from the historical board of the city, so it's taken us all that time to get it."

The east side of the brick building was covered with faded white paint and the business name in gold lettering. It has since been painted black and Hatfield and Grounds have started work on three American Indian faces — each on their individual building section. Hatfield based the mural faces on three prominent American Indian members from different tribes: Kiowa Chief Lone Wolf, Dirty Face of the Delaware Nation and Comanche Chief Mowa. She originally chose different people, but was reminded of the diversity of American Indian tribes in Anadarko and Caddo County. "I originally had a Comanche woman in the center, but I wanted to feature someone of the Delaware Nation since they are very prominent in this area," she said. "I also wanted to represent my Comanche tribe, so that's why I have Chief Mowa in there."

Dirty Face, the Delaware woman who anchors the mural's center, isn't a commonly known name to many. Hatfield bases her drawings off old photos and records. So when she first began researching individuals for her artwork, she noticed something common with just about every photo attribution. While the men, especially chiefs, would be named in their photos, the women weren't. Instead, they were simply labeled in relation to the men.

Using only the image on her phone, American Indian artist J. NiCole Hatfield continues work on a mural in downtown Anadarko. Hatfield didn't paint an outline or a sketch before she began on the faces, but instead used the images on her phone and free hand painted.

"The photos of Chief Quanah Parker's wives don't mention their names, but rather ‘wife of Chief Parker,'" Hatfield said. "When I paint these women — whether it's this mural or on canvas or something else — I'm giving them a voice. This is me honoring them."

A member of the Comanche Nation, Hatfield felt it was extremely important to showcase the American Indian heritage in Anadarko and the surrounding area with this mural. She said certain community individuals might not think highly of American Indians, so she wanted to create something that would inspire those living in the community to be proud of their heritage. She remembered a Cheyenne saying that helped give her the confidence to continue: "A Nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground."

"I felt like I wanted to bring something back to the Native American community and inspire my people," Hatfield said. "That's why it was so important for me to put a woman on the inside."

The mural has been painted entirely by freehand with spray paint. Hatfield does all of her work by memorizing the faces in her mind and checking photos on her cell phone while she works. This is the first time she's painted such a massive project with spray paint, but hasn't had any issues, aside from materials. She and Grounds had to pause work in August because of a lack of funding for supplies. A crowd funding campaign helped them raise the remaining money needed to purchase more spray paint and supplies. Barring any unforeseen issues, she expects the project to be completed by the end of the month.

"We wanted to ensure all of the funding went only to the paint and maybe to gas for us," Hatfield said. "I drive down from Norman, so sometimes I've had a hard time paying for it. We're proud the community supported us and we're excited to give this back to them.

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